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Pierce: Could TV drive non-Power 5 college football to spring?

Published August 12, 2014 1:57 pm

Sports on TV • The idea sounds crazy, but so did the idea of Utah not playing BYU or USU.
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SMU football coach June Jones recently floated the idea that all the non-Power Five football conferences should leave fall to the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC and move to playing in the spring.

At first glance, sure, it sounds crazy. Unthinkable. But look at this in terms of television and it sounds considerably less insane.

Americans have a seemingly unending appetite for football. That's why the NFL has games on Sunday, Mondays, Thursdays and sometimes Saturdays. That's why there's college football on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and occasionally Sundays and Mondays.

There's no football in the spring, however. And more and more sports channels means more and more TV mouths to feed, each with a voracious appetite for football.

Sure, college football used to be all about tradition, but that's been blown away in the pursuit of big bucks. Texas A&M is in the SEC; Rutgers is in the Big Ten; Utah decided not to play BYU for a couple of years and maybe not play Utah State at all after 2015.

Everything the Power Five conferences has done — from expansion to autonomy within the NCAA — has been about money. Why shouldn't the AAC, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt go after a big payday, too?

I'm not saying this will happen. But it's not a totally crazy idea. It's not unthinkable that Utah could end up playing in the fall, Utah State in the spring and BYU ... well, I have no idea when BYU would end up playing.

USU and the SEC • There's good news for Utah State fans and great news for SEC fans — the SEC Network launch in close to 90 million homes on Thursday.

ESPN, which is operating the new channel, has forged deals with Dish, DirecTV and Comcast (among others), so a lot of local Aggie fans will be able to tune in when USU travels to Tennessee to take on the Volunteers on Aug. 31.

It's an amazing turnaround for the SEC Network, which was struggling (by its own admission) in early July.

And it's another kick in the teeth for the Pac-12 Network, which still isn't on DirecTV.

Broncos mania • The next time you wonder why Denver seems to be on local TV every week during the NFL season, remember this — a Broncos exhibition game beat everything on every other local channel last week. And the game was on KMYU, the station that generally finishes at or near the bottom of the local ratings.

On Aug. 7, the Denver-Seattle game averaged a 3.6 rating to win the 7-10 p.m. time slot. It beat CBS programming (2.9) on KUTV; Fox programming/local news (2.3) on KSTU; ABC programming (2.2) on KTVX; NBC programming (1.8) on KSL; syndicated programming/Tour of Utah coverage (0.9) on KJZZ; and CW/local programming (0.7) on KUCW. Yes, the majority of the competition was summer repeats. But even a meaningless Broncos exhibition game did a surprisingly good number.

Tour of Utah duty • The folks at KJZZ deserve a big round of applause for their coverage of the Tour of Utah bike race.

Most televised events take place in one spot and don't require traveling hundreds of miles, mounting cameras on aircraft and keeping track of umpteen competitors.

And KJZZ did a great job with its nightly recap shows as well as its live coverage of the final stage of the race.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com —






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